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www.aol.com Migrating a Flagship Product from a Proprietary Web Platform to Open Source. Mandi Walls Velocity 2009. Agenda. Evolution of a flagship site The old platform: “AOL Dynamic Platform” The new platform: “Dynapub” Growing pains Knowledge migration. Evolution of www.aol.com.

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www aol com migrating a flagship product from a proprietary web platform to open source

www.aol.comMigrating a Flagship Product from a Proprietary Web Platform to Open Source

Mandi Walls

Velocity 2009

agenda
Agenda
  • Evolution of a flagship site
  • The old platform: “AOL Dynamic Platform”
  • The new platform: “Dynapub”
  • Growing pains
  • Knowledge migration
evolution of www aol com
Evolution of www.aol.com
  • You might have seen it before.
  • AOL’s main home page
  • Links to various internal and partner sites
  • Runs Netscape, Latino, Mexico portals, as well as partner co-brands
  • Also the in-client “Welcome Screen” with a slightly different look and feel
  • It’s the same page, 55M times a day!
slide11
ADP
  • AOLserver on every layer
  • Internally developed and maintained
  • Historically related to DigitalCity, 10 years of continuous new development
  • Proprietary point to point, permanently connected communications
  • 90% of the data transient in RAM
  • N-tier
  • Configuration in TCL!
  • Multiple frontend farms shared all infrastructure
  • Optimized for real time publishing with caching
  • Still handling millions of hits a day after large migration efforts
  • Scaled at 45hps per server instance
proprietary systems pros cons
Proprietary Systems: Pros / Cons

Good stuff

Shoot me

The person who wrote it left the company years ago

I have to write my own extensions

Google can’t help me with this problem…

Hard to apply new ideas evolved in the industry.

  • The person who wrote it might sit down the hall
  • I can write my own extensions
  • No licensing
features of aol com s new architecture
Features of AOL.com’s New Architecture
  • Standalone environment
  • Fewer internally developed systems
  • Standard connectivity over HTTP
  • Hides fewer flaws
  • Requires more technical how-to from development
lessons learned migration process
Lessons Learned – Migration Process
  • One size fits most
  • Proprietary platforms hide many sins
  • Learning curve on new tech is frustrating
  • The customers aren’t always going to like it
  • Easy to get in a hurry and lose time
managing architectural complexity
Managing Architectural Complexity
  • Some things did get more complicated than they needed to be
  • Just because you *can* do something, doesn’t mean you should
  • There are a lot more things to look at, and for our team to be responsible for than on the old platform
metrics and monitoring
Metrics and Monitoring
  • Metrics collection through access logs – we have tools for that
  • Standard formats, universal meaning
  • All-HTTP communications simplifies monitoring
  • Techs at every level can tell when a component has failed
managing the people resources
Managing the People Resources
  • Important to not leave anyone behind on the old stuff
  • Everyone wants to work on the new cool thing
  • Applies to development, QA, operations
  • Challenge is to create a broad range of knowledge about the new platform without wiping everyone’s brain of the old platform
future of aol com
Future of AOL.com
  • Continues to be a key part of AOL’s web strategy
  • International components
  • Refreshing the page design
  • Business focus on revenue and UVs
  • Closer integration with other core AOL products means more opportunities for developers to get large scale experience
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Positive and negative aspects of a platform migration
  • Retraining is key, but so is remembering the characteristics of the product
  • Huge cultural shift at AOL